Face of a Sangoma by Johannes Maswanganye.
Face of a Sangoma by Johannes Maswanganye.
An installation of medicine containers and beaded clothes.
An installation of medicine containers and beaded clothes.
The beaded attire of a sangoma.
The beaded attire of a sangoma.

DURBAN - AN exhibition showcasing the works of sangomas and izinyanga, which boasts an art piece dating back to 1910, was opened at Phansi Museum in Glenwood on Friday.

The exhibition, The Art Of Healing, consists of works largely made by sangomas and izinyanga. Most of the 
pieces were sourced from collectors, and the museum’s 
collection.

“Most of the owners of the pieces and some collectors have died. Some pieces in our collection were bought from the late collector and sangoma Nester Zondi. Some of the pieces are very old and collectors have bought them from the grandchildren of the creators,” said assistant curator at the museum, Phumzile Nkosi.

She said they also had work from Limpopo. Nkosi said the exhibition, which runs until April 30, was about sharing the beauty and creativity of those in the spiritual healing space.

The beaded attire of a sangoma.
The beaded attire of a sangoma.


“In the old days there were no plastic or glass containers to put muthi into for clients. On exhibition we have beaded animal horns which were used many years ago for this purpose,” said Nkosi.

She said beaded and embroidered textiles, beaded mats and hairpieces as well as medicine containers in all sizes and shapes were on exhibition.

“One sangoma’s hat, from looking at it, dates back to 1910 and is made from materials from a type of tree – you can get a chance to see how
hat-making transformed over the years by looking at some of the ones made later with beads.”

Nkosi explained that the African fertility dolls on exhibition were made by sangomas in training.

“Initiate sangomas all have to make these fertility dolls during their training and upon completion leave these behind where they were training. In the traditional healing space, the doll is said to be connected to the ancestors of the trainee sangoma, which are connected to the ancestors of sangoma doing the training – hence they are left behind,” she said.

An installation of medicine containers and beaded clothes.
An installation of medicine containers and beaded clothes.


She said the exhibition allowed for a look into a different aspect of the spiritual healing realm, being the artistic aspect of healing.

“We’re looking at the other side, at the tools of transformation, how beauty can heal, how medicines can repair and how the izangoma guide and direct their patients to believe in their own power and their ability to heal,” she said.

Nkosi described this art as ubuntuArt and said sangomas were neither employed or in business, but were called into the fraternity.

  • For further information, contact Phansi Museum at 031 206 2889 
THE INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY